Daoirí Farrell: A Lifetime of Happiness

July 3, 2019

Place Before Time

Listening Post 208. When Daoirí Farrell sings, time slips away and a powerful sense of place takes over. Tales of romance begin not in a car or—heaven forbid—on social media, but typically when two people out walking meet on an Irish country road, and where a random tweet is not a meme but an avian sound. With his third solo album, Farrell solidifies his reputation as one of Ireland’s finest traditional singers, deploying his bounteous, sparkling voice in a collection of love and drinking songs, tales of adventure and misfortune. Music scholar as well as performer, Farrell has a penchant for good stories and he thematically unites old and contemporary ballads with enchanting arrangements that include his own bouzouki and a gorgeous palette of Celtic and world instruments wielded by friends. With due respect to man’s four-legged companions, he delightfully hails another best mate—a tall glass of Guinness that goes down best with accordion and bodhrán—in A Pint of Plain (video 1). Valentine O’Hara is the swashbuckling saga of a highwayman still boasting of his escapades on the eve of his hanging (video 2). One standout among the album’s love songs is The Galway Shawl—which indeed starts with a walk in early May when a young man spies “… a damsel so fair and handsome/And her beauty stole my heart away” (video 3). There’s poignant turnabout in The Hills of Granemore, the story of a hare hunt told from the viewpoint of the long-eared victim (video 4). Also noteworthy is Windmills, a twentieth-century folk song that pays tribute to medieval technology but also seems to stand out as a poetically just and up-to-the-minute environmental statement. The title, A Lifetime of Happiness, is a reference to Farrell’s career—and a gift he pays forward in music, the precious coin of all realms. (Daoirí Recordings)

A Lifetime of Happiness
Daoirí (pronounced “Derry”) Farrell: vocals, bouzouki
Dónal Lunny: producer, bouzouki, bodhrán, guitar, harmonium, keyboards, bass, backing vocals
Robbie Walsh: bodhrán
Pat Daly: fiddle
Avril Crotty: cello
Séan Garvey: accordion
Peter Browne: accordion
Tara Finn: concertina, backing vocals
Séan Potts: uilleann pipes, whistle
Mark Redmond: uilleann pipes, whistle
Máire Ní Chronain: backing vocals
Geoff Kinsella: mandolin

Related post: Daoirí Farrell: True Born Irishman, Listening Post 99, May 16, 2017.

Daoirí Farrell: True Born Irishman


A Pint of Plain
Music: Pat Goode/Lyrics: Flann O’Brien

When things go wrong but will not go right/Though you do the best you can
When life seems dark as the hour of night/Well a pint of plain is your only man

It’s your only man, your only man/Well a pint of plain is your only man

When money’s tight and hard to get/And your horse is also ran
And all you have is a heap of debt/Well a pint of plain is your only man

It’s your only man…

When your health is bad and your heart feels strange/And your face is pale and wan
When the doctor says that you need a change/Well a pint of plain is your only man

It’s your only man…

When food is scarce and the larder bare/And no rashers grease your pan
When hunger grows because your meals are rare/Well a pint of plain is your only man

It’s your only man…

In time of trouble and lousy strife/Though you still have a darlint plan
You still can turn to a better life/For a pint of plain is your only man


Valentine O’Hara
Traditional/Arrangement: Daoirí Farrell, Dónal Lunny

I am a gallant highwayman called Valentine O’Hara/And I come from poor but decent folk nigh to the Hill Of Tara
By the getting of a maid with child to England I went over/I left my parents and I became a wild and daring rover

Well it’s straight to England I did go where I became a soldier/Resolved to fight Britannia’s foe, not Hector Great was bolder
I fought all in some foreign shores where cannons loud did rattle/Believe me boys I do not boast how I behaved in battle

Well it’s many’s the battle I fought in, in Holland and French Flanders/But I always fought with a courage keen led on by great commanders
Until a cruel ensign found me out and I was flogged and carted/Oh cruel usage they gave me and so I soon departed

Well it’s straight back to England I did go as fast as winds would drive me/Resolved that of my liberty no man could e’er deny me
But I slept out in the fields at night by all my friends forsaken/I dare not walk the road by day for fear I might be taken

But I being of a courage keen and likewise able bodied/I robbed Lord Nounce on the King’s highway with pistols heavy loaded
I placed my pistols to his breast which caused his his heart to quiver/Five hundred pounds in ready gold to me he did deliver

Well with part of my new store of gold I bought a famous gelding/That could jump over a five bar gate and I bought him from Ned Fielding
Lord Arkenstone all in his coach I robbed near Covent Garden/And two hours later that same night I robbed the Earl of Warren

In Turnham Green I next did rob the revenue collector/And what I took from him I gave to a widow to protect her
I always robbed the rich and great for to rob the poor I scorned/And now in iron chains I’m bound and doomed I now lie burning

And it’s straight to Newgate I do go all by the law convicted/To hang all on the Tyburn Tree of which I’m much affrighted
Farewell my friends and neighbours all likewise my native Tara/Kind providence may test the soul of Valentine O’Hara


The Galway Shawl
Traditional/Arrangement: Daoirí Farrell, Dónal Lunny

In Oranmore in the county Galway/Early, early in the month of May
I spied a damsel so fair and handsome/And her beauty stole my heart away

She wore no jewels, no costly diamonds/No paint nor powder, no, none at all
But she wore a bonnet with a ribbon on it/And around her shoulders was a Galway shawl

We started walking, and started talking/
Until her daddy’s house came into view
And she said “Come in sir and meet my father/And play to please him the Foggy Dew”

She sat me down beside the fire/
And I could see her daddy there, he was six foot tall
And her mammy smiling and the kettle boiling/But my mind was all on the Galway shawl

I played The Blackbird, The Stack of Barley/And Rodney’s Glory and The Foggy Dew
And she sang each note there like an Irish linnet/While the tears like fountains down her cheeks they flew

It was early, early all in the morning/
When I hit the road for sweet Donegal
And she said goodbye sir and I hugged and kissed her/
But my mind will always be on the Galway shawl

She wore no jewels, no costly diamonds…


The Hills of Granemore
Traditional/Arrangement: Daoirí Farrell, Dónal Lunny

One fine winter’s morning my horn I did blow/To the green fields of Keady to hunt I did go
We gathered our dogs and circled around/Oh for none loved the hunt better than the boys of Maydown

And when we arrived they were all standing there/So we took to the fields in search of the hare
But we did not go far ‘til someone gave a cheer/Over high hills and valleys the wee hare did steer

When she got to the heather she tried them to shun/But the dogs they never missed her one inch where she ran
They were kept well packed going over the hill/They had set themselves on this wee hare to kill

And it being quite early I stopped for a while/Twas little I thought they were going to meet Coyle
For had I known that I’d have laid near the town/I’d have tried to get rid of those dogs of Maydown

As we drew o’er the hill it was a beautiful sight/There were dogs black and yellow and dogs black and white
And she took to the black bank to try them once more/Oh and it was our last look on the hills of Granemore

And as they grew near where the wee hare did lie/She sprung up to her feet for to bid them goodbye
But their music did cease and her cry we did hear/Saying bad luck to the ones brought the Maydown dogs here

In a field of wheat stubble the wee hare did lie/And Rory and Charmer did soon pass her by
And there where we stood at the foot of the brae/I heard the last words that the wee hare did say

Oh no more o’er the green fields of Keady I’ll run/Or trip through the fields in sport or in fun
For last night as I lay quite content in the glen/It was little my thoughts were of dogs and of men

And no more o’er the green fields of Keady I’ll roam/And now that I am dying the sport is all done
Nor hear the long horn that Joe Toner does play/Nor go home to my bed by the clear light of day

Oh you may blame old McMahon for bringing Coyle here/He’s been at the same caper for many’s the year
Every Saturday and Sunday he’ll never give o’er/With a pack of strange dogs round the hills of Granemore



  1. Denis McGilvray

    Glad to hear that Daoirí has a new album out! I first came across him after a friend heard him play at Folk Alliance International a couple of years ago. Thanks for sharing this wonderful preview of a wonderful sounding album!

    • atigay

      Hi Denis,
      Thanks for writing. I discovered Daoirí when True Born Irishman came out, probably around the time you did. He’s got talent to spare and I look forward to many more albums from him. I see that you led off your show last Sunday with a track from Kanazoé Orkestra, another one of my favorites. I plan to review their new album later this month.


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